In The Bloom Book, author Heidi Smith explains the power of floral essences in the journey toward self-discovery
Introduction by MARIE LOOK
Words by HEIDI SMITH
Illustrations by CHELSEA GRANGER
Flowers perhaps mean more now than ever before, elevating our mood or becoming messages of love and reassurance to friends and family during these uncertain times. But in herbalist Heidi Smith’s new title, The Bloom Book: A Flower Essence Guide to Cosmic Balance (Sounds True, $24), the author explains flowers’ full range of powers, including their uses as spiritual medicine.
For those grappling with issues such as anxiety, grief, relationship challenges, trauma, or for those simply interested in their own spiritual growth, Smith demystifies the healing benefits of flower essences and how they can enhance self-discovery practices — such as decoding our deepest dreams.
HEIDI SMITH, psychosomatic therapist, herbalist, flower essence practitioner and the author of The Bloom Book: A Flower Essence Guide to Cosmic Balance. Photo by Frances F. Denny.
“This book is the realization of the assignment I was given by the Universe: to bring people to the flowers and to serve as a guide for greater alignment and heart consciousness,” Smith writes in the book’s introduction. Her own path to self-discovery began in 2007 after she experienced the loss of her brother. Knowing she was struggling with fear and anxiety, a friend gave her a Bach flower remedy (a solution developed by early 20th century homeopath Edward Bach). “I didn’t know what it was or how it worked, but once I started taking those drops three time per day, I knew they were helping me move forward,” Smith writes.
Ultimately inspired to fuel her growing interest in the subject, Smith sought out mentors such as renowned spiritual teacher Jane Bell, and herbalist, nutritionist and flower essence practitioner Claudia Keel. She also completed a master’s degree in mental health counseling and finished a three-year clinical herbal medicine program at the ArborVitae School of Traditional Herbalism. Along the way, she developed a list of trusted resources and producers — among them, Flower Essences Services, which handcrafts herbal formulas at its 27-acre cottage industry, garden and wildlife sanctuary called Terra Flora in Nevada City, Calif.
In July 2014, Smith debuted her practice, Moon & Bloom, in New York City, enabling her to formally share her knowledge with others. And now, with the publication of The Bloom Book, she brings the information to an even wider audience, discussing everything from the divine feminine to vibrational medicine to moon rituals to quantum healing and much more. Consider it a more than comprehensive guide in working with flower essences to ignite healing and transformation.
“Flowers represent a branch of plant medicine that is specifically concerned with our consciousness and evolution,” Smith shares on the Moon & Bloom website. “To connect with their essence catalyzes the blossoming of our own healing and spiritual journeys.”
Here, in excerpts from The Bloom Book, Smith introduces flower essences for the uninitiated and explains how to use flowers to unlock the mysteries encoded in our dreams.
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What Are Flower Essences?
These are chaotic times, and yet the laws of nature support all life coming into balance. Plant and vibrational medicines are the oldest forms of healing on the planet, connected to much ancient wisdom that is crucial for us to remember now.
Defining flower essences requires some imagination because no universal definition exists. They aren’t exactly things — they are more of a process. The word flower actually derives from the word flowing. In describing what flower essences are — how and why they work, how they’ve come to exist, how to understand their significance and application — it’s possible to conceptualize them as falling under two therapeutic subsets: herbal medicine and vibrational medicine. Flower essences are physical remedies you take orally (or apply topically) that are made by harnessing the subtle energies of a flower. They are a wondrous blend of herbal and vibrational medicine that can lead to transformations beyond what your current consciousness may even believe is possible.
Flower essences are created from blossoms that have been picked at the height of their blooms, placed in a solution of water that has been charged by the sun, and preserved in a small amount of alcohol. Their special relationship to the light is a part of their unique healing properties. Each essence contains the energetic template of that plant, which is then overlaid on our crystalline matrix to bring in more light.
Flower essences are different from essential oils and are odorless. The entire signature — or essence — of the flower is captured in the medicine. The flower essence tincture can be taken orally, applied directly to the skin, or made into a mist. They are safe, nontoxic, and have no side effects. They are appropriate for use with adults, children, animals and plants.
Using Flower Essences in Rituals For Transformation
A ritual is any practice you perform with intention. Like the symbol of the rainbow, rituals connect the physical world with the nonphysical plane and provide more ways for us to enact our dreams and potentials. Flower essences work so powerfully with ritual because they work at highly subtle, refined levels — at the level of spirit. Rituals work with a similar frequency, with the energy of intention, prayer, affirmation and offering. Because ritual engages the spirit or energetic level of your practice, flower essences are perfectly attuned to support this type of work.
Decoding Your Dreams to Find Peace
Dream work can be a potent self-discovery tool. Everyone dreams, although some people recall their dreams more than others. Dreamtime is rich terrain for archetypal exploration. The ancients heeded the messages and advice in their dreams, as we would from a trusted source. From an energetic perspective, every night the astral body literally disconnects from the physical body and floats around in the astral plane. There, our psyches can mingle with influences and energies within the collective. It is no wonder that children sometimes fear sleep; it is actually quite wild to think about the journeys we go on each night!
Sleep is of profound importance for our health and well-being. In our modern world, sleeping and dreaming have been cast aside in place of overwork and productivity. Theta waves are the frequency of the brain as we are falling asleep, and are associated with flashes of insight, vivid creativity, and deep relaxation. Delta waves are the slowest waves emitted by our brains in between dreaming (and also meditation); they are necessary for much of the regenerative functions of our system.
Therapeutically, dream work can be a way in when no solutions or signs present themselves in waking life. Lucid dreaming is the practice of co-creating the landscapes of your dreams in collaboration with your subconscious. This can be particularly useful in repetitive dreams, where your subconscious is attempting to tell you something. One is not limited to time or space in dream work. It is possible to give yourself a signal to realize you are dreaming, and control the dream however you desire.
Resolving conflict, exploring a time or place, reconnecting with someone, experiencing pleasure, flying — all are possible in our dreams and can be deeply reparative on many levels. I’ve had the opportunity to resolve deeply and long-held conflicts that wouldn’t be possible in waking life. Skeletons in my closet present themselves, and we can reach a place of appreciation and forgiveness. I have no doubt that these dream encounters are clearing karma in the physical world.
I have had success with taking a flower essence for dream work before bed, setting an intention, giving myself a signal if I’m engaged in lucid dreaming, and writing down what I’ve dreamed as soon as I wake up. I will then choose a way to integrate the meaning of the dream by writing or drawing about it. Bringing the insights from your dreams into waking life ensures to your subconscious that you got the message.
Flower Essences That Support Dream Work
- Angelica — provides protection from the spiritual worlds and the help of loving forces from on high; “angelic protection,” especially when one crosses the threshold to the “other side,” for example, in situations such as death or passing away, dreams, meditation,operations, or serious illnesses, when the mortal body is less bound to the Earth.
- White chestnut — for restless, fitful sleep due to anxious feelings or repetitive mental chatter.
- Star tulip — for greater receptivity and awareness of dream symbolism and dream recall; more awareness of subtle realms.
- Chaparral — for disturbed or chaotic dreams; release of trauma, sometimes through catharsis; cleansing of the psyche.
- Forget-me-not — to facilitate communication and connection with spirit guides or departed souls in dreams and sleep.
- Mugwort — for awareness across the threshold; greater activity and consciousness in dreams; integration of dream life and psychic awareness with ordinary reality.
- Guardian — a blend of covelite, devil’s club, round-leaf orchid, stone circle, white violet, and yarrow; helps you create a powerful force field of protection in your aura; it invokes positive, harmonious energies that help you claim your energetic space, maintain your grounding, and feel the protection of strong, healthy boundaries.
- Soul Dreams (moonlight mugwort) — brings forward deeply held dreams, desires, and fears for releasing or embracing; permits functional levels of manifestation to bring in blocked desires; helps us reawaken “wanting” in alignment with our soul.
- St. John’s wort — provides a sealing and strengthening to the energy field that is weakened from shock, burnout, or from an expanded or escapist nature; protects from dreamtime imbalances; the sealing action of this essence occurs from within the energy field in the area where the field connects to the belly.
How to Make Your Own Flower Essences
Making your own flower essences can be a magical and joyful experience. It is empowering to make your own medicine, and doing so opens another dimension of consciousness and healing with the plant kingdom. This deeply rewarding ritual is also quite affordable and is available to anyone who can access nature for a few hours.
As with selection, your vibrational signature impacts the quality of the remedy you formulate. This doesn’t mean you need to become a monk to make medicine. It does mean that you need to be discerning about your energy; for example, I generally don’t make medicine for anyone if I’m having an emotional day. Every tool you use must be clean. The water should be of the highest quality. The idea is to mimic the morning dew.
Here are the tools you will need:
- A thin, clear glass bowl (with no designs)
- One 2-ounce amber bottle for the mother essence
- One 1-ounce amber bottle for the stock essence
- One ½-ounce bottle for the dosage essence
- Labels for the bottles
- Fresh spring water (from a glass bottle, if possible)
- Early morning sunlight (or moonlight or starlight)
- Brand (or apple cider vinegar)
- A clear mind
For the mother essence: ⅔ flower water and ⅓ brandy solution.
For the stock essence: Add 7-10 drops per ounce of ⅔ water and ⅓ brandy solution.
For the dosage essence: Add 7-10 drops per ounce of ⅔ water and ⅓ brandy solution.
Go out into nature in the early morning if you’re making a traditional essence. It is wonderful to work early enough that dew is still on the plants. Sunny weather is best, but it’s totally acceptable to make essences under other weather conditions. If you’re making a moonlight or starlight essence, pick a time of night, but remember that some flowers close at night. Select a flower that calls to you.
Connect with the spirit of nature, the spirit of your flower, and any other guides you work with, and state your intention. Use your ritual to select which and how many flowers to use, and place them in the glass bowl filled with water. I usually pick flowers in odd numbers. You want to pick only the very top of the plant with the inflorescence (the complete flower head). For endangered or poisonous flowers, just place the bowl of water near the plant instead of harvesting it.
Now that you have your bowl of water with the flowers in it, sit and be still for two to three hours, whatever length of time you are guided. Heartier flowers may need more time in the sun while more delicate flowers may need less, depending on the outside conditions. It’s not necessary to be in perfect meditation for the entire time the flowers are solarizing, but this is a beautiful opportunity to connect with the plant kingdom. I’ve had pretty psychedelic experiences with guides, plant spirits, faeries, different dimensions, and all kinds of planetary energies during this ceremony. You may wish to journal your impressions at this time. Or you may feel guided to lie down and rest — you may have some interesting dreams!
Whatever you choose to do during this time, try to be mindful and quiet. At the end of the two to three hours, gently take out the flowers and any insects or leaves that are in the water so the water is clear. Use a leaf to take the flowers out of the water and offer them back to the Earth. Take the 2-ounce bottle and fill it one-third of the way with the brandy or vinegar. Pour some of the water from the bowl into the bottle with brandy, and offer the rest of the flower water in the bowl back to the Earth. This is your mother essence. The mother can be stored indefinitely; it will not lose its vibration if stored properly.
To make your stock essence, take the one-ounce bottle and fill it a third of the way with brandy or vinegar. Then fill it two-thirds of the way with spring water. Add seven to ten drops of the mother into the stock bottle. The stock essence will last for ten years.
To make your dosage essence, repeat the steps for the stock, except this time only add three to seven drops of the stock to the dosage. Take a half-ounce bottle and fill it one-third of the way with brandy or vinegar, and two-thirds of the way with spring water. Add three to seven drops of the stock into the dosage essence. This essence will stay vibrationally potent for 90 days.
Excerpted from The Bloom Book: A Flower Essence Guide to Comic Balance (Sounds True, $24) by Heidi Smith, MA, RH (AHG), used with permission of the author and publisher.
Feature image, illustrations and cover image copyright 2020 Chelsea Granger.
Aug. 28, 2020
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